Slowing Global Climate Change
Urban trees help offset climate change by capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide in their tissue, reducing energy used by buildings, and reducing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel based power plants. Our City’s trees store about 1.35 million tons of carbon valued at $24.9 million. In addition, our trees remove over 42,000 tons of carbon each year. Recently, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development cited a study by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) which advocates planting trees and increasing topsoil as preferable methods of combating global climate change. Since soil and trees effectively store carbon dioxide and other pollutants, ecosystems have been proven to play an essential role in climate mitigation.
Water Quality Protection
Urban trees capture rainfall on their leaves and branches and take up water, acting as natural stormwater capture and retention devices. Street trees intercept 890.6 million gallons of stormwater annually, or 1,525 gallons per tree on average. The total value of this benefit to New York City is over $35 million each year.
Improved Air Quality
Trees remove dust and other pollutants from the air. In fact, one tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, the equivalent of 11,000 miles of car emissions. Our trees remove about 2,200 tons of air pollution per year, valued at $10 million annually.
Lower Summer Air Temperature
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, urban forests reduce urban temperatures significantly by shading buildings and concrete and returning humidity to the air through evaporative cooling.
Natural Resource Conservation
By using trees to modify temperatures, the amount of fossil fuels used for cooling and heating by homeowners and businesses is reduced. Our City’s street trees provide $27 million a year in energy savings.
New York City’s urban forest provides habitat - including food and shelter for many species of birds, insects, and other wildlife, as well as environmental education resources for New Yorkers of all ages. A recent Op-Ed piece in the New York Times outlines many of the environmental benefits of trees, including the role of riparian tree planting in fertilizing plankton populations which in turn feeds the local fish population. The effect of such riparian plantings in Japan have been studied by a recipient of the United Nations Forest Heroes Award.